US Festival ’83 The Complete Soundboard (Zodiac 350)
Glen Helen Park, Devore, San Bernadino, CA, USA – May 29, 1983
(70:03) US Festival Intro, Diary Of A Madman, Over The Mountain, Mr Crowley, Crazy Train, Suicide Solution, Revelation (Mother Earth), Steal Away (The Night), Drum Solo, I Don’t Know, Flying High Again, Fairies Wear Boots, Iron Man, Children Of The Grave, Paranoid, Outro
The US Festival was a music festival organized by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in the early 80’s. The first, in 1982, featured mostly AOR and New Wave acts and was enough of a success that it was expanded upon for the 1983 “edition”. For the ‘83 fest, they had New Wave, Rock, Country, and Heavy Metal days. This was big news in the still burgeoning Heavy Metal community, total representation of some of the then genre’s biggest acts. The line up was impressive, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, Ozzy, Judas Priest, Triumph, Scorpions, and headliners Van Halen. Judas Priest and Triumph have both officially released their sets, the Van Halen set has circulated for years and is known for David Lee Roth being very drunk during their set. The other bands do have footage and audio recordings that circulate, although sadly incomplete. There was a deluxe three disc set from Bondage featuring Heavy Metal Day entitled Quiet Riot, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Triumph, Scorpions, Van Halen – The US Festival ’83 Heavy Metal Day (Bondage BON030/31/32) taken from broadcast sources.
Ozzy’s set has circulated in incomplete forms for years on audio and video and there is an audience recording of his complete set in average quality, this new release is most welcome as it is a direct soundboard, not from any kind of radio or video broadcast. Older releases of broadcast recordings are on vinyl as Never A Dull Moment (KM 11408), San Bernadino (No Label), Live In San Bernadino (No Label), and Live 28.05.83, San Bernardino (510 012A). There was a release a few years back on CD-R, Complete US Festival (Lost And Found-LAF 2045), I do not have any info on this title other than the title says complete. This new release from Zodiac features the complete concert in excellent quality, perfectly balanced powerful sound with full range of frequencies including a great bottom end, this is certainly “truly perfect sound” and could pass for an official release, yes it’s that good.
By 1983 Ozzy was firing on all cylinders, he had weathered the shock of guitarist Randy Rhoads untimely passing and had found a stable replacement guitar player in Jake E Lee. He had released his first live opus, Speak Of The Devil in November 1982 and was getting a massive amount of media coverage for his off stage antics and feud with Black Sabbath, hammered in the press but adored by fans, he was (and still is) a legend. As popular as he was, there are a scant few recordings from this period, the Speak Of The Devil tour. I know of just three, Lausanne Switzerland January 22 aka Masters of Lausanne (Zodiac 145), Quebec May 30, 1983 aka Jake Rendered Sabbath (Bondage Music BON 089), and the US Festival gig, this is hands down the best in terms of quality.
The band is a monster, Jake on guitar, Tommy Aldridge on drums, Don Airey on keys and original bass player Bob Daisley making his return to “the family”. He had been brought back to help with the writing of what would become Bark At The Moon and this is his first time playing with Ozzy on American soil, in his memoir Fort Facts Sake he describes the event as rewarding yet sad as Randy was not there. The recording begins with an intro by The Great Woz (Steve Wozniak) followed by Ozzy’s then intro music, the end portion of the song Diary Of A Madman with the band kicking into Over The Mountain. Jake’s playing is more raw than previous guitarist Brad Gillis and it sounds incredible, he nails the Mountain solo, part Rhoads part Gillis and you can hear the audience cheering.
It’s all gravy from here, Mr. Crowley again has Jake impressing and Ozzy rises to the occasion and is in phenomenal form, and voice. “Is everybody high…it’s good to be here today…d’ya wanna go a little CRAZY?…climb aboard the Crazy Train”, Jake plays the intro riff a bit chunky, not fast and fluent, not that he can’t do it, he was interjecting a bit of originality into his version. Suicide Solution features a band jam similar to the Gillis era, jamming but no guitar only solo. Don Airey shows his talents during the always superb Revelation (Mother Earth) reproducing his intricate twinkling of the ivories, with ease. Steal Away (the Night) is rollicking and leads to a Tommy Aldridge pummeling, aka drum solo. It’s no wonder Ozzy wanted the former Black Oak Arkansas and Pat Travers sticks-man. He is a force of nature, like Cozy Powell with more thunder, if that’s possible.
The band keeps them coming hard and fast with I Don’t Know and Flying High Again, perhaps the real treat of this recording is a superb version of the Black Sabbath Classic Fairies Wear Boots. Taken from his most recent live record, Speak Of The Devil made up of all Black Sabbath songs, it is awesome to have a version in perfect quality. Jake plays the song in classic style, paying homage to Father Iommi, the solo is pure Jake with a hint of Gillis for good measure. The beginning of Iron Man has Ozzy doing the regular chant along with the audience, the song is paired with a blistering rendition of Children Of The Grave. The encore, of course there’s an encore, is Paranoid. Love Jake’s take on the Sabbath classic, he does a unique descending riff that has blown me away since I first recorded this version off the radio back in ‘83, just incredible. “Did somebody say Ozzy?” The recording ends with an announcement about water and a thank you for not breaking off faucet heads, Metal Fans, gotta love ’em.
The packaging is great, full color live shots taken from the US Festival, the cover featuring the Voodoo man headdress, a classic moment in the history of the Ozzman. Picture disc, numbered sticker, all here packaged in a jewel case. Stunning performance of a legendary gig, this is a must have.